Peruvian farm workers block major road in south, demanding better wages

by Reuters
Tuesday, 1 December 2020 19:31 GMT

By Maria Cervantes

LIMA, Dec 1 (Reuters) - Hundreds of workers from agricultural export companies in southern Peru burned tires and abandoned vehicles on Tuesday along a key highway in the Andean country's farm-rich south, stranding dozens of tractor-trailers with perishable products under the midday sun.

The protesters, whose demands included higher wages, blocked the Panamericana Sur highway 300 km (190 miles) south of Lima, leaving trucks and motorists at a standstill for hours, according to television reports.

"They have blocked the Panamericana Sur and the districts of Santiago in order to prevent workers from going to the farms to do their daily work," Marlon Anticona, the police chief of the Ica region in southern Peru, told a local television network.

Protesters complain of paltry salaries as low as 39 soles ($11) daily and antiquated laws that favor big companies over workers.

Peru's sprawling agricultural export sector went largely unscathed during the coronavirus outbreak, largely because it was exempted from restrictions that hobbled mining and fishing, among other industries.

Peru, which produces a wide range of fruits and vegetables, from mangos to blueberries and asparagus, exports to the United States, Europe, China and Canada.

Some agricultural export ports in Argentina, a leading global food supplier, were also shut down on Tuesday by a strike over wages. ($1 = 3.6088 soles) (Reporting by Maria Cervantes, writing by Dave Sherwood)

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